Americans Await Second Stimulus Check Update as Senate Returns

As the Senate returns lawmakers look set to focus upon a further stimulus bill with hopes for another round of economic impact payments a key factor on the mind of Americans.

The upper chamber of Congress broke for recess last month with no deal in place for a relief package amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, with bipartisan talks between Democratic figureheads and White House representatives subsequently stalling.

Stimulus checks have support across both sides of the aisle, as well as between both Democrat and Republican voters, and President Donald Trump has also voiced his backing for their distribution.

But while this key aspect has been a point of agreement, other factors and costs have posed hurdles to a wide proposal likely to pass the House and the Senate respectively.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) previously expressed reservations that a package would be able to garner bipartisan support, suggesting as the election looms the will for cross party cooperation is dissipating.

At an event in Kentucky last week, McConnell that he could not say "for sure whether we'll get another rescue package or not."

To simplify the split between Democrats and Republicans, the overarching issue has been that of cost.

The Democrats' HEROES Act, which passed the House in May, was worth around $3.4 trillion while Republicans looked to cap spending at around $1 trillion.

As the Senate returns, the divide on how much money to pump into relief looks only set to widen with the anticipation of a so-called skinny relief bill to be put forward by GOP lawmakers.

This would encompass a $500 billion spending proposal, expected to be brought forward this week, the details of which have not been fully expanded upon.

However, it is anticipated this would exclude another round of stimulus checks—despite that being one of the major points of unity between both sides in negotiations.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) makes his way through the Senate Subway under the U.S. Capitol on August 6, 2020. The Senate is returning after a recess. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

And while the skinny package proposal looks to bolster unity amid the Republican Conference, it would appear likely only to push the GOP and Democratic positions further apart.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the it would be "more appropriate" to label the skinny bill as emaciated, in a letter to Senate Democrats last week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows alongside Schumer, has also criticized her political counterparts' stances on relief.

In a statement released Monday, she said: "Sadly, this Labor Day, America's workers are facing the staggering assault on their health and economic security from the unprecedented coronavirus crisis. Yet, with millions of workers still unemployed and millions more at risk of losing their jobs, Republicans and the Trump Administration continue to ignore the scale of the crisis and refuse to lift a finger to help working families."

Voices from the House have pointed to the HEROES Act and again called for it to be passed by the Senate having done so in the lower chamber more than 100 days ago.

The House Ways and Means Committee called upon McConnell and the Senate GOP to "consider doing their job," as it pointed to the HEROES Act.

"During the over 100 days @SenateMajldr has ignored the Heroes Act, Americans lost their homes and children went hungry," the committee said on Twitter.

"@SenateGOPreturns to work tomorrow. They should consider doing their job!"

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Monday described funding passed by the House Democrats as critical, referring to points such as state and local funding as well as unemployment support.

"Anything less is completely unacceptable from @senatemajldr and Senate Republicans," he said of what could be pushed by the Senate GOP.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) also pushed for the Dems' proposals to be moved forward, writing on Twitter: "The House passed the Heroes Act months ago - it's time for it to be taken up in the Senate and signed into law."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was also among those to suggest the the HEROES Act be passed by the Senate.

In a message aimed at McConnell, he said: "Do your job. Let us pass the HEROES Act or legislation that is even better."

The HEROES Act approved another round of direct payments of up to $1,200 per eligible individual, similarly to the amounts paid in the CARES Act though the money for dependents would be paid at altered rates.

Newsweek has contacted the lawmakers mentioned and the White House for comment.

The Senate returns as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic surpasses 6.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

The below graphic, from Statista, looks at the states with the most confirmed cases as of September 7.

covid states sep 7
Statista